Combat Mission Final Blitzkrieg PC Game Review
Combat Mission: Final Blitzkrieg Computer Game Review. Publisher Battle Front Price $60 for Mac and Windows
Passed Inspection: Engrossing campaign play, instant battle generator, incredible immersive graphics
Failed Basic: battle generator has a few bugs in unpatched state, text too small on anything less then a 20” monitor, campaign games load up slowly even on fast machines
The venerable Combat Mission franchise has been providing first class World War 2 and Modern Conflict action since 2000. Originally designed by Charles Moylan as an official Advanced Squad Leader computer game for Avalon Hill, it was picked up by Big Time Software (now known as Battlefront) after the purchase of Avalon Hill by Hasbro. Now with Combat Mission: Final Blitzkrieg, Battlefront has taken their World War 2 system to a whole new level!
Combat Mission: Final Blitzkrieg (CMFB) examines the actions of the Allies and Germans during the critical Battle of the Bulge campaign in December of 1944 but play actually covers October 1944 to January 1945. The player can play German Panzer Troops, German regular Army troops, Waffen SS, Fallschirmjäger and US Army infantry and armor forces.
CMFB is a stand alone game and does not require any other program to play.
The PC system requirements are, at the minimum:
Operating System: Win7/Win8
Processor: Pentium IV 1.8 GHz or equivalent speed AMD processor
Video Card: 256 Megabyte VRAM or better and must support 1024×768 or higher resolution in OpenGL
Sound Card: DirectX 10 compatible Sound Card
System Memory 2 GB RAM
Hard Drive Space: 12 GB
Other requirements: DVD drive (for hardcopy version only)
The game does not work in a virtualized environment (virtual machine)
The game includes a wonderful selection of vehicle units including M5 Stuart Light Tanks, M24 Chaffees, many varients of the M4 Sherman including different versions of the 105 mm howitzer Shermans, M4A1s with the 76mm cannon and even the M4A3 armed with a flame thrower! Other Allied tanks include the Sherman Crab, the M10 and M18 and M36 tank destroyers and even the M12 Gun Motor Carriage armed with a deadly 155mm howitzer which was normally used for indirect fire. Assorted Allied armored cars, trucks, cars and half tracks are also included. A full complement of infantry units and both anti-tank guns and howitzers is also featured. In addition, rocket launchers are available for mounting on the Sherman tank to create the Sherman Calliope which is a first in any simulations I’ve played. All these units are rendered in beautiful detail. Air support is available from P47s and P51s.
As stated previously, the Germans have a mix of infantry units including Waffen SS, Fallschirmjäger and regular army infantry and panzer troops. Axis vehicles include the Panzer II Luchs, four different Panzer IVs, five different versions of the Panther, three different models of the Tiger as well as the massive King Tiger. Assault guns and tank destroyers include the Jagdpanzer 38 including the flamethrower armed version, Jagdpanzer IVs, Marders, Nashorns, JagdTiger and Stugs, StuH42s, Sturmtigers and Jagdpanthers and many other halftracks, armored cars, trucks, cars, howitzers, rockets and guns. German air support is provided by Focke-Wulfes outfitted for ground attacks.
Combat Mission: Final Blitzkrieg gives the players control over infantry and armored forces. Each unit is a team or squad of soldiers or one vehicle. The player has control over the general tactics of each unit up to and including calling artillery strikes. The wonderful thing about this game system is that the player doesn’t have to have the dexterity of a teenager in order to play the game. You click on a unit (or group of units for giving them team actions) and then tell the unit what to do through easy to understand command menus. Actions include such things as infantry squads or vehicle personal debarking their vehicles, moving troops slowly through terrain while making use of cover, running full speed towards and objective, fire teams setting up or breaking down heavy weapons, setting up zones of fire, etc. For vehicles, you can order them to stay put and ambush the enemy, move slowly, hunt for enemy targets, move full speed, close or open up hatches, etc. You have almost full control over the orders for a unit. After you give the units their orders, you press a button and the action plays out in real time. You can even rewind it and watch it from multiple angles. At times, the unit may not follow your orders based upon morale or other environmental conditions – men under heavy ground fire may just hunker down and try to survive instead of blindly following your orders to charge a machine gun position. In fact, the units behave so realistically that the player often feels like he is controlling real soldiers and not just digital simulations.
A nice feature of Combat Mission is that you can either give orders from 1 minute turn to 1 minute turn or put the game on real time mode where you can give orders as the action constantly plays out. This creates a whole new challenge for the armchair commander.
The game maps can be viewed from almost any angle and height. You can watch from a god’s eye view looking straight down or move the view to the level of the foot soldiers. Whatever view you want, you can set.
The game models a variety of fall and winter weather patterns including the historical weather patterns for the days included in the campaigns.
The terrain is hyper realistic with weather conditions affecting the environment – wind lashes and moves trees, snow and rain obscures your vision and makes solid ground in to mud, etc. All the game objects can be targeted and damaged or destroyed. When soldiers run in side of buildings you can actually see what they see. In fact, Combat Mission feels more like a miniatures game than a tactical war game! Additionally, well done sound affects lead to a great sense of immersion in the game. During one particular night attack mission I played, as the soldiers and tanks tried to advance through the mud and cold drizzling rain, I actually found myself getting cold even though the room was warm. It is this type of dynamic environment which brings this game to life. You really feel that you are there, with these soldiers during this pivotal battle.
A detailed rule book features full tutorials and an encyclopedia of all the units in the game. In the download edition, the rule book is included as a PDF. The tutorials are detailed and help get the new player up to speed.
The problems with Combat Mission: Final Blitzkrieg are few and far between. For older eyes, the small type font used in the status screens can be disconcerting. If there is a way to increase the size of the fonts, I’ve yet to find it. And while a few other problems with earlier releases in the Combat Mission series have been fixed, it is still far too easy to give a unit an incorrect order for movement. Luckily, the program provides a button which clears the erroneous move and lets the player re-enter the move sequence. Additionally, even on a fast machine such as mine, scenarios or campaigns can take up to three or four minutes to load up; far too long for those waiting for the action to start. In addition, before I patched the game, random scenario generation can, at times, leave the units in an impossible position at the start of the game. For example, when I used the random scenario generator to set up a battle, the game put all my tanks in the middle of a dense forest. The tanks were unable to push through the old growth trees and started the game effectively isolated and stranded. This was a rather annoying bug but after I patched the game, this error hasn’t happened again.
None-the-less, these few complaints aside, Combat Mission: Final Blitzkrieg is an instant classic of World War II warfare simulations! Well done Battlefront!
Armchair General Rating: 94 %
Solitaire Rating: 5
About the Author
A college film instructor and small business owner, Richard Martin has also worked in the legal and real estate professions, is involved in video production, film criticism, sports shooting and is an avid World War I and II gamer who can remember war games which came in plastic bags and cost $2.99 (he’s really that old)!